Similar to the banned racecars of the past and as a nod to the Brabham BT46B and Chaparall 2J, the Aero-P (Aerodynamic Efficiency Requirements & Optimization Project), which is built off of the Atom, features a rubber skirt on the bottom of the tub where two small, high-speed fans create a vacuum-like effect. Instead of using an inverted or a traditional wing that generates a lot of drag and only operates at high speeds, the fans don't generate any drag and can create large amounts of downforce at low speeds.
Ariel's system can be turned on and off on demand, giving drivers the option to have high downforce when cornering and low downforce when traveling in a straight line. The technology isn't just for show, as Ariel claims the system creates more downforce than airfoils.
The benefit of the system is clear, more downforce, while reducing drag, which should improve performance. Whether or not such a system would reduce emissions, we're not so sure. While driving faster is likely to increase the rate of fuel burn, and therefore increase tailpipe emissions, any reduction in drag is sure to have a positive effect.
The Aero-P is currently in the initial stages of testing and while it's nifty, we doubt the technology will find its way into roads cars. Regular, everyday cars have no need for improved downforce, while rocks and debris would surely destroy the fans over time. Track-only cars, though, would greatly benefit from the system, but we'd definitely miss supercars with towering wings.